Go With The Grain
Choosing bread these days can be challenging. Wholemeal and multigrain are promoted as healthy and white as really crumby. So many supermarket products claim to have grains, that seeds of doubt are planted in our minds. Here are all the facts you need on wholegrains and how you should be eating them.
Wholegrains are seeds of cereal plants such as wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice. The most common wholegrains you probably eat are brown rice, corn, oats and wholemeal bread. Even popcorn, muesli and porridge count. Research shows that despite the wide range of wholegrain containing foods, most of us don’t eat enough of them.
There is no doubt that wholegrains are great for our health. They are full of fibre, B vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium.
They provide a multitude of nutrients which not only make us feel and look better but also have long term health benefits.
Wholegrains have been shown to help us lose weight as they are low in fat and rich in fibre making us feel fuller for longer. They also improve our blood sugar and insulin levels. This reduces our chances of developing type two diabetes. Eating your grains has also been shown to improve your concentration and reduce tiredness.
Eating wholegrains is also great for digestive health and immune function. The insoluble fibre in wholegrains keeps our bowels moving meaning less constipation and risk of disease. Prostate, breast and cancers of the digestive tract have been shown to be significantly lower in people who eat wholegrains along with heart disease and stroke.
Super grains such as quinoa, amaranth, salba, millet, kamut, spelt and millet are also heavily marketed. Including these in your diet is great as it increases your variety of wholegrains. The super title is probably not warranted though. These are simply just wholegrains that come from interesting origins and have been cleverly marketed.
‘Source of wholegrains’ is a common line used on packaging. This may mean there are some wholegrains in the product but it also means that there are going to be refined grains which have little benefit. ‘With whole grains’ is different from just ‘wholegrain’ too. The ‘with’ suggests that only a percentage is wholegrains so check your packet for the percentage as it could be low.
If you want to benefit from eating wholegrains then you should be aiming for four serves each day. Choose rolled oats, oatmeal or wholewheat cereal such as weetbix, shreddies, bran flakes, puffed wholegrains and wholegrain cereal bars for breakfast. Thirty grams or 2/3 cup is a serve.
Cook whole wheat pasta, noodles, brown rice, cracked wheat and quinoa. Half a cup is a serve. Use wholemeal flour and choose snacks such as wholegrain cereal bars and crackers, oat cakes and wholemeal scones. Look out for the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council or GLNC logo on foods. If a food carries this certification it means the product must contain 16 grams of wholegrain per serve.
The best bread is wholegrain wholemeal bread or simply wholemeal bread. Wholemeal bread has wholegrains that have been milled but still contain all the nutrients you need. Wholegrain bread will have whole grains but these may have been added to a white flour mix. All your other high fibre white breads remain unseeded.
There are lots of grains out there that are simply run of the mill. Check your labels carefully to make sure you’re getting the whole grain along with the whole truth.